Alessandro Minuto Rizzo, NATO Deputy Secretary General proclaimed the mission a reflection of NATOs ongoing transformation and resolve to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.
This means the venerable NATO will become in the war on terror, and put itself on the payroll of the fastest growing multinational business on the planet.
Rizzo claimed that NATO would lead the peace- keepers as long as necessary.
The peace- keeping force is known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). At least thirty countries contribute these soldiers. Before NATO took command on February 10th it was led by Germany and the Netherlands. ISAF troops were deployed in December, 2001, after the US led war that toppled the Taliban.
But the eager eyed NATO command might not like what its getting into.
Immediately after the fall of the much maligned and diplomatically challenged Taliban, the boom boxes came out and the beards came off. But since then, Afghanistan has disintegrated along the fractured fault lines of War Lords, clans and families, and descended into chaos.
These different factions might hate each other and carry blood feuds for generations. But, hating and killing foreigners supercedes any provincial squabble. Banding together to fight any invader is an Afghan tradition.
Empires with Imperialist ambitions have been fiercely resisted. The British launched their first Afghan Army back in 1842. Of the thousands of British soldiers put into the field to suppress the wild tribes outside the Kabul Government, only a handful of soldiers survived to reach the Khyber Pass to safety. The rest were butchered, or died in the snow and ice.
For ten years back in the 80s, the Soviet Army slowly died and Osama Bin Laden was born.
And now there is a new army to fight.
The last several weeks have seen some very fierce fighting; Taliban rebels have thrown the gauntlet at the government in Kabul, and have been hitting and running in their finest tradition of catch me if you can. The hottest fighting has been in the southeast region of the country. Between the cities of Kandahar and Kabul lie the two provinces of Katika and Zabol. Targets inside both provinces have been attacked and overrun by guerrillas. .
Of course, the US government probably is playing fast and loose with the title of Taliban.
There is no law and order outside the provincial governments. The countryside is rife with War Lords shooting it out for control of the once again flourishing drug trade, unemployed bandits looking for some easy pickings, or real live renegade Taliban looking to settle old scores.
And of course, any free- lance terrorists recruited by American dollars in the wrong hands will gladly sign on for the chance to slit a foreign throat.
The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is fluid at best, and simply nonexistent in other locations. The southeast seems to be the most porous.
Just two weeks ago, a convoy of guerrillas crossed the border and attacked a police station. The raid began just after midnight on a Saturday, when about 400 insurgents mounted on trucks crossed the border 125 miles southeast of Kabul. Firing machine guns, tossing grenades and shooting rockets, they easily took over the compound and held it until Sunday morning.
Afghan police were caught inside the compound and elected to shoot it out with the attackers. Seven were killed, including the police chief.
As dawn came the attackers packed up and fled. There may be a small force of Americans in country, but they have air power and know how to use it. They retreated, taking their dead and wounded with them. It was the largest attack in over a year.
It was reported that Taliban fighters actually took over the Provincial capital of Zabol: Qalat City, effectively cutting the country in half. Kandahar and Kabul would be out of communication, its forces threatened. But like many reports out of Afghanistan, this proved not to be the case. Alt Press has a source in a newspaper in Quetta, Pakistan, The Balochistian Post, just across the border. The source cannot confirm the story.
As we go to press, U.S. forces and Afghan militia are responding to a series of Taliban attacks. Using A-10 warthogs, F-16s and Harrier jets in support, they are pounding and attacking suspected Taliban strongholds in the provinces. Central Commands body count rests at 14 Taliban.
In Afghanistan, just like Viet Nam, anyone trying to kill you is a Taliban. By Grady Hawkins
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) took command of the more than 5,000 international peace- keepers on duty inside Afghanistan on August 11th. The take over ceremony took place inside a heavily guarded high school auditorium in the Afghan capitol of Kabul.
Formed just after World War Two, NATO is a group of West European countries including France, Great Britain and Germany who banned together to defend themselves against a of Soviet invasion of Western Europe. But after the collapse of the Kremlin and the tearing down of the Berlin wall, NATOs usefulness seemed to be at an end. The much- publicized NATO involvement in the Clinton Administrations war in the Balkans was just that, an American show with a superfluous NATO stamp of approval. It may have been on NATO stationery, but the conflict was executed by U.S. cruise missiles and bombers.